Thursday, March 20, 2008


I'm still recovering from an unexpected but extremely pleasant visit that occupied the first half of the week, so posting will be sparse.

But here's a thought that occurred to me the other day. It's probably nothing, but it's still worth putting out there on the off chance I'm right, in which case I will be on record as being right.

In the build-up to Secret Invasion, Marvel is spending a lot of time ramping-up expectations - certainly understandable, but perhaps a little bit foolhardy in the context of past bait-and-switch operations that have passed for promotion in mainstream comics circles. The Big Two are nothing if not foolhardy. But still, the talk circles around the fact that something Big is going to happen. Now, how much "Big" can really happen in a series in which the biggest possible reveals - either Iron Man or (dead) Captain America are Skrulls - have been potentially telegraphed & predicted widely for a year? Furthermore, what could possibly happen in the pages of Secret Invasion that could warrant the kind of mainstream press attention Tom Brevoort has implied the story will receive?

I guess my tentative answer to these question revolve around another, simpler question: how much in the way of guts do you think Marvel has? Do you think they've got the stones to make the "Big Reveal" of Secret Invasion be that . . .

the President of the United States is really a Skrull?

There's precedence, but nowhere near on this scale. Under Steve Englehart's tenure, Captain America saw the president - sort-of - commit suicide at the climax of a pseudo-Watergate scandal in the mid-70s. Later on, Mark Gruenwald had Captain America - then simply The Captain - battle Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office, ultimately impaling him with a flagpole. (Reagen had been turned into a giant snake at the time, and the post-Iran-Contra symbolism was lost on exactly no-one). Both of these occasions, it must be noted, occurred in the context of perceived instability in the executive branch. Both of these occasions also coincided or paralleled one of Captain America's periodic identity crisis - in the first case, the President's suicide triggered Steve Rogers' first sustained abandonment of the Captain America identity; in the second case, Rogers had been stripped of the identity by the government and replaced by a psychotic goon with an overtly-conservative political agenda. In America today we've also got an unstable executive branch, and in the books themselves a substitute Captain America wears Steve Rogers' uniform, with the real deal (presumably) in the grave.

Both of the previous storylines, while certainly memorable, occurred solely in the context of Cap's own book. Secret Invasion isn't just a single book, so it'd be hard to ignore, and even harder to predict the reaction if reader perception shifted negatively. (Bush is as unpopular as any President has ever been in living memory, but even given that he's still got a rock-solid 25-30% of the electorate behind him.) It would be a big move on Marvel's part: it's perhaps the one thing that could come out of this storyline that could possibly reproduce Death-of-Cap-scale headlines and attention. Regardless of whether or not fandom as a whole warms to the book itself, it would ensure blockbuster sales - not merely successful sales, but potentially Death-of-Cap numbers. And as opposed to the aforementioned Death of Cap book, the open-ended nature of such a revelation might actually bring new customers back for issue #2. Whereas many laymen might have (naturally) assumed that Captain America #25 was the end of the story - most peoples' experience of death does not naturally imply a sequel, after all - if the big reveal on the last page of Secret Invasion #1 happens to be that George W. Bush is really a Skrull, well, you might conceivably get real-world people excited about reading issue #2.

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